Barbados Arrival

We arrived into Barbados 25 days and 3,689 nm after leaving St. Helena. We’re told this is the longest non-stop run in a Nordhavn under 100ft. Including the 11-day, 1,711 nm trip from Cape Town to St. Helena, we’d been at sea six weeks to the day between Cape Town and Barbados, and covered exactly…

Envoy’s 2016 Cruising Plans

Being unable to cruise during 2015 we sure had plenty of time to think about this subject and here’s what we’ve come up with.
We’ll get back to Lefkas Marina early April and hope to have Envoy back in the water mid April. ASAP after that we’ll leave the marina for a 3-4 day shakedown cruise and if all is well head towards Corfu.
We’ll clear out of Greece at Corfu and cross to Albania for about 2 weeks. Apart from wanting to spend some more time in this fascinating and by European standards very basic area this will give Envoy a spell out of EU waters avoiding any requirement to pay VAT.
We’ll clear back into Greece at Corfu and head south through the magnificent Ionian islands to the east coast and then south coast of Peloponnisos (mainland Greece). From there we’ll cruise east via the southern Cyclades Islands of Milos, Kimolos, Folefandros, Sikinos and Ios to Santorini.
Then we’ll cruise south to the central north coast of Crete and work our westwards before cruising back to the Peloponnisos coast by way of Antikithera and Kithera Islands.
Then we’ll be retracing our steps back up the Ionian Sea to Corfu before concluding our 2016 cruise at Lefkas Marina late October.

So now finally this doesn’t seem like something way ahead in the future and our excitement is building!

Envoy Tech-talk
While we’ve been away from the boat things have still been happening recently on the technical front (apart from the various works completed up to mid last year and detailed in previous blogs):
-One of our bow thruster’s 24V battery bank batteries was damaged due to a short circuit caused by loose connections. Batteries in a bank should always be replaced together so we’ve got two new Deka batteries en route from a dealer in Italy to replace these.
-The hydraulic rams on our Naiad stabilisers have been leaking a small amount of oil and the “knuckles” on these rams have been worn. Parts are coming in from USA to replace these and at the same time the fluid and filter will be replaced.
-The windlass’s electric motor is being removed to be cleaned and checked. When you anchor hundreds of times in a year windlasses are subject to much more wear than normal – carbon dust collects in the back of the motor and can cause a short.
-Envoy’s hull and running gear are being cleaned off and prepared for anti fouling so this can be done within days of our arrival and we can launch quickly.
-Envoy’s large RHIB is having some maintenance done and the Yamaha 25hp outboard fully serviced so we can sea trial it on our arrival.

There’s a very long list of technicalities to be performed before we can start cruising and we expect this to take about 2-3 weeks based on previous experience. We’ll talk about this during April and hope there’s no nasty surprises!

Spectacular Computer Repair was DEFINITELY NOT SPECTACULAR!

I offer this article as a cautionary note to readers. I got scammed and I will take some of the credit for letting my guard down. That said, the story has a somewhat happy ending,

BEWARE OF SPECTACULAR COMPUTER REPAIR

BEWARE. Spectacular Computer Repair which goes under other names (i.e., B2B IT, Leiser Enterprises, Spectacular Stuff, LLC) is DEFINITELY INCOMPETENT and may be dishonest. I found “Spectacular” through Thumbtack. Wayne, whose card says CTO, offered to evaluate my laptop for $75 at my home. Upon arrival, he required my signature on a contract before he would look at my laptop, which he VERY quickly verbally reviewed. This was unusual. Most vendors do not do this. There is a reasonable expectation between the parties that the vendor will provide service for which the buyer will pay and the vendor will stand behind their work. I should have been suspicious.

Wayne then proceeded to identify problems using the internal Event Log (this is similar to what the Microsoft Windows scammers do). HE DID NOT CHECK THE RAM OR HARD DRIVE even though he could have used something like Ultimate Boot CD (which is free) to run a quick check of the RAM on site. Again, I should have been suspicious. He proposed a charge of $295 for the repair, which included replacing Kaspersky anti-virus software with Malwarebytes (an anti-malware application). He then took the laptop to his shop.

24 hours later he returned the laptop declaring that he had worked on it late into the night. Then he had me purchase Malwarebytes ($39.95) on line. I then proceeded to open a Word document and immediately the laptop crashed due to a memory error.  THIS DEFINITELY CONFIRMS THAT WAYNE DID NOT CHECK RAM OR THE HARD-DRIVE AT HIS SHOP. He said I had to get new memory from Lenovo. I asked that he assist me with the call for which he charged me $40. Total paid to Wayne was $335.

Wayne’s Evaluation Report
Lenovo sent the memory which I then had installed by a Lenovo dealer in Tampa. That took 5 minutes. While there I had them review Wayne’s handwritten almost unintelligible Evaluation Report. They informed me that the “problems” (codes) he had found were all fixable on site and some were not even problems and that the $335 charged was outrageous. (Wayne had also offered to replace the memory card once received for another $125). They further stated that replacing Kaspersky with Malwarebytes was just flat wrong as Malwarebytes is not a complete suite of antivirus software. Hence, he left my computer vulnerable to attack. Noteworthy, is that shortly after I disputed the $335 charged to my credit card my email address book was hacked. 
THE HACK:
Diana discovered the hack when she noticed hundreds of “MAILER DAEMON – Failure Notices” in in our inbox.  Below is an image of the email sent by whomever hacked my email address book. The whomever is Lester Shapiro ([email protected]), which of course is not my email address. Notice the email says that I am in Manila, Philippines. Other versions have me in different cities all over the world. What’s strange is that there is no specific request for $$$ or an address where it should be sent. It appears if you respond to Lester Shapiro ([email protected]) the hacker (crook, criminal, bad guy, etc.) will correspond and, I suspect, include an attachment that contains some walware; thus infecting your computer or, worse, he cons you into sending money.
AFTERMATH:
I replaced Malwarebytes with a top quality anti-virus software and enlisted their technical support people to perform a thorough check of my laptop. No malware (i.e., viruses, trojan horses, ransomeware or spyware) was found. So, Wayne does not appear to be a criminal. However, the hacking of my email address book shortly after I disputed the credit card charge is at best suspicious as a malicious act. Or, it could have been a coincidence related to the removal of my Kaspersky anti-virus software, in which case, Wayne’s INCOMPETENCE made the hack possible as he left my laptop vulnerable.
I also changed passwords as appropriate. Then, I posted a large number of reviews describing my unfortunate encounter with Spectacular Computer Repair. Payback is a bitch!
My loss! About two days time and a moderate amount of stress. Back in the days when I worked as a consultant for The Warranty Group, they billed my time at $2,000 per day. Hence, Wayne owes me $4,000 for my time. I suspect that I’m not likely to collect. 
Written by Les

Salisbury Plain – South Georgia Island and home

January 8 – Salisbury Plain and Albatross Island

At dawn we reached our destination, which was barely visible in the mist, rain and fog. The swell was significant, and the wind was gusting to 40 knots. The Captain looked for a lee, and for a while it did not look good. Then the wind lessened and the Seabourn Quest moved closer to the Salisbury Plain and the immense King Penguin rookery, with 750,000 breeding pairs spread out over the hillsides and level ground between two glaciers. The penguins shared the beach with southern fur seals, elephant seals and opportunistic Great Petrels, Skua’s, Kelp Gulls and even some Terns. Even from the ship we could hear the cries of the King Penguins, sounding like wind moaning in the rigging of a ship. The surf was too high for a safe landing, so we cruised along the shore just outside the surf line. The rain and wind made the experience cold, but visually exciting, even though photos were difficult and poor quality in the flat light and rain

Patrick headed out on the final zodiac tour

Cruising along the beach in front of the rookery

The rookery stretches for more than 1 mile
And to the top of the hills

The abundance of life also meant that we saw death and feeding as the birds and seals did what they needed to do to survive.  By 1130 all groups had had a chance to do a zodiac tour and the Seabourn Quest headed for Montevideo. The weather for at least the first 24 hours is for 4 meter seas on the beam with winds to 30 knots.

Marching into the sea
Seeming to like doing it as a group

King Penguins swimming

Petrel feasting on a fur seal pup

And arguing over a King Penguin

As we departed in the rain and wind, Miriam and I stopped for lunch at the Patio Grill, all wrapped up in blankets and the 34 degree wind whipped around the diehards like us who like the menu, the staff and the ambiance of sitting outside watching the swells pass by the ship and the water sloshing out of the pool.  The Thomas Keller burgers were good, as usual, along with a hot Gluvein wine and a warm rice pudding.

Returning to our stateroom, we both laid down for a nap and woke up barely in time to attend the final recap briefing from the expedition team before going to the Colonnade for a Tuscan buffet, joining Eva and Dave Schoonmaker.  While there we saw what will probably be our last tabular iceberg of the trip, in the distance, but nearly 5 miles long.

The Seabourn Quest continues to rock and roll as we head into a weather system with winds predicted to increase for at least 24 hours as low pressure systems sweep eastward from the Pacific Ocean through the Drake Passage and into the Atlantic. The sun is setting and we can see squall lines on the horizon as the seas continue to build from the west, rolling towards us relentlessly.  At least we no longer have blackout conditions and can leave the stateroom drapes open.

We have finished Antarctica, and it will take some time to digest what we saw. The Chilean fjords seem like a dream from the past, and we will never look at SE Alaska in quite the same way.

January 9 – At Sea

During the night we continued on a direct course for Montevideo.  The wind and seas continued unabated from the west, putting them nearly on the beam. Even a ship the size of ours, even stabilized, rocked, rolled and slammed through the the night. Morning brought partly cloudy skies and swells greater than 5 meters right on the beam.

January 10 – At Sea

Another day of heavy seas, winds and general discomfort as we slogged NW towards Montevideo. Today was the crew epicurean event on the Patio, with foods and drinks from a number of nations. We ended up eating dinner at the Patio Grill rather than changing into “elegant casual” attire. Patrick attended some of the final lectures of the cruise.

January 11 – At Sea

The weather is finally improving, with calm seas and lower winds. Packing for the trip home started. Lunch at the patio grill, a session in the bow whirlpool and the crew farewell with the last formal dinner capped off the evening. We also got a bridge tour.

January 12 – Montevideo

As the sun rose, the Seabourn Quest pulled into the breakwater protecting the harbor. Outside the breakwater was a mass of abandoned and sinking fishing vessels. The ship docked at the commercial port, just a few slips from the Zaandam, which we had last seen cruising in Antarctica several weeks ago.

Our shore excursion started with a bus tour of the city, with several photo stops. We then went slightly out of the city to the Bouza Winery for a tour, tasting and lunch, which turned into a fiasco, with slow service, not enough food and general lack of ability to handle the number of guests. Returning to the ship we gathered for final drinks and chats with our cruising friends of the last 24 days before returning to the suite to finalize packing and leave the bags outside the door.

January 13 – Buenos Aires

Due to a small cruise terminal and several ships, we left the Seabourn Quest at 0745.  We were greeted by the Captain and staff as we left, very moving.

After some minor confusion outside the terminal getting into our private van to the hotel, we entered the lobby of the Park Hyatt about 0830 and then had to wait until 1000 for a room, as there were an equal number of guests checking out to get on the ship for the next voyage. Relaxing on the terrace over coffee we phoned Carlos Ormachea and arranged to meet for dinner. The rest of the day was spent walking in the Recoleta area of the city, visiting the impressive cemetery, churches and then lunch at a German themed restaurant.

Meeting Carlos at 2000, we headed to an Argentine beef restaurant just a few blocks from the hotel and gorged on three different kinds of beef while catching up on 29 years. Returning to the hotel, we sat on the terrace and sipped single malt whiskey and coffee before calling it a night at 1230 am.

Sloan Fellow Classmate Carlos Ormachea with Miriam & Patrick
January 14, Buenos Aires

After a leisurely breakfast on the terrace of the Duhua Palace (Park Hyatt), we headed to the Estancia Santa Susanna for a day with the Gauchos and another beef extravaganza. Returning to the hotel we found the “Sorrento” Mediterranean Bistro for a light seafood dinner before a nightcap on the terrace of the hotel.

January 15 – Buenos Aires to Dallas

After another lazy morning, a brief tour of the area, we had lunch at a local sandwich shop and then to the airport. The check-in process was slow, but we got to the lounge, found a power outlet that worked and then boarded our American Airlines flight to Dallas.  The 777, while old, was adequate and the crew provided a loaner charger for our iPads. The service was great!

January 16 – Dallas to Vancouver

Our flight landed just as US Customs was opening at 0500.  We did not have to claim our bags; they were transferred directly to the Vancouver flight.  Finding a lounge close to our gate, we were able to use the showers and relax until our flight was called at 0900.  The flight was on-time and uneventful, as was the customs and immigration procedures in Vancouver.

Marina Jack Wins Marina of the Year

Our winter haven, Marina Jack, has been named Marina of the Year for 2015 in the large marina category by Marina Dock Age magazine.


Marina Jack looking east into downtown Sarasota

This did not come as a surprise to us. I have been telling people for years that Marina Jack is one of the best run facilities that we’ve visited during our cruising years.

We stopped at 135 marinas on our 2010 to 2012 Great Loop Adventure, one of which was Marina Jack. Cruising Lake Michigan from 1999 to 2010 we managed to visit all but two ports and easily have stayed at over 50 different marinas in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. Include our east coast cruising and we tally visits to well over 200 marinas. 

What makes a marina exceptional from our viewpoint turns out to be only a fraction of the criteria that Marina Dock Age uses to judge excellence. Well get to that in a moment.


Looking northwest toward the Ringling Bridge and Longboat Key

Location, location, location. Marina Jack is conveniently located at the foot of Main Street in Sarasota. That provides easy access to a wealth of restaurants, shops, culture (e.g., movie, opera, theater, symphony, botanical gardens, weekly events) and a Whole Foods within half a mile of the marina. This is great for transient boaters and even better for people like us. The car stays parked most of the time as we walk to events. None of that counts in Marina Dock Age’s criteria.


Prestige 75 and Two Hargraves, a 125′ next to a 101′

Marina Dock Age looked at Marina Jack’s partnership between public and private sectors, It’s strong ties in community events, highly experienced staff, industry involvement with boat shows and local brokerage affiliations, development of the City’s first mooring field, and it’s certification as a Clean Marina for the past 12 consecutive years. They also considered their continued infrastructure investment, hospitality, capacity to accommodate large yachts (up to 228 feet) and providing first class amenities and services to a wide variety of customers. 

We respect all of the above but what we look at is far more basic. Here’s seven criteria that, in our opinion, evidence a well run marina:

  • Pump-out: Easy to access (e.g., at the fuel dock) with sufficient hose length and suction to drain a tank in a reasonable amount of time
  • Trash management: No trash on the docks or around dumpsters
  • Security: Always working and not easy to penetrate
  • Lighting: Dock walkways adequately lighted 
  • Dock safety: No hoses or power cables running across the dock creating a trip hazard.
  • Clean bathrooms.
  • MBWA (Management by walking around): Staff are constantly aware of everything going on and take action to correct problems.

Sounds simple. But we’ve stayed at excellent physical facilities with lots of amenities that fall short on those simple criteria and some that manage to come up short on almost every one. Marina Jack excels at each.


Notice the large clean garbage containers

Pump-out: The pump-out system consists of outlets mounted at every other finger with a cart containing 75 feet of hose. You can do it yourself or have marina staff do it. Equipment is in top condition. 100 gallons is offloaded in less than 10 minutes.

Trash Management: Large attractive white trash containers are located at every third finger of each of the docks. These are emptied several times a day. Large boxes left besides the container are removed quickly. I have no idea where the dumpsters are located and this is our second year.

Security: Marina Jack changes codes monthly. Malfunctions, which are rare, are rectified quickly. Security guards are stationed at the dock gate during events with a list of who is entitled to enter the dock.

Lighting: Docks are well lighted and bulbs that fail are replaced quickly.

Dock Safety: When it’s necessary to run a power cable across the dock, staff provide heavy rubber cable protectors. 

Bathrooms: Marina Jack provides 10 individual bathrooms each equipped with its own shower. They are cleaned several times each day.  It is rare to walk in to a messy bathroom.

MBWA: From our viewpoint, the marina manager, Sam Chavers, has fostered a culture of proactive correction of problems. Dock hands see problems and make them go away. Mention a problem to marina management and the problem is immediately corrected.

Examples: I casually mentioned to Dan, a mere (just joking) dock hand, that the hook on the piling between my and my neighbors slip was broken. Next day it was fixed. I asked for an extra cleat to secure my forward spring line. Done! I suggested mounting a squeegee in the bathroom to push shower water that “migrates” outside the shower back in. Result: They increased the cleaning interval and now the bathrooms are almost always spotless. 


Marina Jack staff at the Marina of the Year award presentation
L to R: Unknown, Joe Catell, Sam Chavers, Kat Wilson, Unknown, Annie Wilson
Note: The unknowns are Marina Dock Age executives

Marina Jack has a total of 318 slips with capacity for mega yachts up to 228 feet.  Most are floating, 20 are dry storage hydraulic lifts and about 50 are fixed docks that ring Bayfront Park. Marina Jack also operates the Sarasota Bayfront Mooring Field with moorings for 100 boats.

Marina Jack caters to cruising boaters with 20 dedicated transient slips on the west side of D-dock. Our slip, D-11, which is rented on an annual basis, is on the east side of this dock. We get to meet lots of interesting people.


D Dock looking toward the restaurants
The empty slips on the lower left are for transient boaters 

Side Story: Last year I informed Sam Chavers, Director of Marina Operations, that we would be returning in 2015 and beyond and asked if we could have slip D-11. Why D-11 you ask? 1. It’s got a great view of Bayfront Park. 2. It’s has room to launch our tender from the port side. 3. It’s on the best dock; wide walkway and least number of boats. 4. It’s just far enough away from the restaurant music to where it can either be enjoyed or ignored. And 5, most important, Bayfront Park provides shelter from seas and wind. This is the calmest spot in the marina.


Looking west to the sunset over Bayfront Park

Sam informed me that I was in a permanent slip available for annual rental and that he was surprised that it was available. He further said that we needed to make reservations now or risk not even being able to stay here next winter. We had to make a $5,000 decision. Rent D-11 on an annual basis at $13,000 or spend $8,000 for 6 months and take our chances. Not a difficult decision.


View from Marina Jack’s award winning fine dining restaurant

The facility includes three restaurants with fine dining upstairs and two outside informal restaurants downstairs and a banquet facility.The Marina Jack II dinner cruiser takes diners for a floating dinner of Sarasota Bay.

Want something maintained, repaired or upgraded? No problem as long as it can be done at the dock. Marina Jack Services has a wide array of highly responsive top quality vendors that address almost every boating need. Joe Catell, Yacht Services Manager, and Kat Wilson, who’s title is Associate Manager of Public Services and Yacht Services Administrator (phew – long title) manage the operation and provide treats for Kodi. (Kodi loves this Kat.)


Guided Discovery in Slip D-11

Speaking of services. Marina Jack allows divers to clean bottoms at the dock, which for us is a very convenient. Our Massachusetts Marina does not allow this forcing us to leave the dock and anchor outside harbor. So what you say. Well, unfortunately the weather does not always cooperate resulting in rescheduling.

Back to criteria. The factors listed above are but a small part of the requirements that Marina Jack had to meet to earn Marina of the Year recognition. In fact, the application, according to Kat Wilson, was 180 pages long.

Sam Chavers, Director of Marina Operations, provided me with the rather extensive criteria they had to meet.  I’ve listed at the end of the article. Here’s Sam’s official press release statement:

“This award is truly a testament to, not only our ownership, but our staff and customers,  We’re honored and proud to represent the marina industry, the City of Sarasota, and our community with this nationally recognized distinction. Our business plan has always been to create points of difference for the customer in order to build one of the best marinas in the United States, and this award exemplifies our efforts towards that goal.”

Well, Sam and Company, congratulations. You and you team have truly achieved your goal. 


Written by Les

Criteria (FYI)

Business Operations
Describe your staff and their responsibilities. How do you manage your business
and monitor performance throughout the year? Please provide any financials
that highlight your business successes, including profit centers, overall profits
or revenues and expenses, or historical information showing the growth and
development of your business. We will not publish any financial information
without your permission.
Facilities Improvements
Describe any expansions, updates or added amenities. What did you do? How did
you do it? How did you finance your projects? What plans do you have for the
future?
Advertising and Marketing
Describe the market you target and serve. Who are your boaters? Where are
they from? And how do you know this? How do you attract customers through
advertising and marketing? Describe your website, newsletters, special events
and any other creative marketing efforts.
Customer Satisfaction
How do you build relationships with your customers? Describe events you
plan and manage. What special services do you provide? How do you measure
customer satisfaction, and what are the results?
Environmental Responsibility
How do you ensure a clean and safe environment for your customers? What
measures do you take to limit your impact on the environment? Are you a
certified Clean Marina? What environmental awareness programs have you
created in the marina and community? How have you confronted and remedied
environmental issues? What are you doing to be ”green?”
Industry Involvement
What is your relationship with nearby businesses or marina colleagues? List
memberships and position held in organizations and associations in the industry.
How do you celebrate National Marina Day?
Benefit to the Community
Include achievements for local tourism, jobs created and your membership
and activities in civic and/or charitable organizations. List memberships and
positions held in professional organizations and associations in the local
business community.
Special Challenges
What challenges are unique to your facility (location, regulations, natural
environment, etc.)? This can include challenges you faced in the past. How do
you overcome them and how do you take on current challenges?
Attributes and Accomplishments
What sets your marina apart from the rest?

2016-01 Fall and Winter Cruising Views in the Pacific Northwest

January 21, 2016: Fall and Winter Cruising Views of the Pacific NorthwestEach winter we cruise the Pacific Northwest.  The sun’s low position in the sky and the varied winter weather provides the stuff for better photos.  Here’s a few you can…

New Pilothouse Control Panel

This is our new pilothouse instrument panel.From right to left: New 7215 MFS butted up to the starboard 7215, GMI 10s next to one another on the port side of the panel New panel with 3 Garmin 7215 screens showing satellite weatherPort: Precipitation, …

Snowbird Migration: Guy’s Thoughts

Every year the Hingham Shipyards Marina holds 2 customer appreciation events.  It is a chance to have some free wine and cheese outside with the other boat owners.  The marina has a good number of boats and their owners are from varying backgrounds.  

I have been at HSM for 2 seasons now and met some nice people.  However, on July 2nd 2015 I found myself in a conversation with one Lester Shapiro.  Rather quiet but a nice man.  In our conversation he mentioned that he was taking his yacht to Sarasota.  That got my attention.  Then he simply said, “Would you like to join me”.  Well my jaw just about dropped.  What an opportunity!   It was just what I was looking for.  I had recently received my captain’s license and now I needed experience.  You know the deal, you need experience to get on a yacht but if you don’t have experience you can’t get on a yacht.  I just took a breath and said “Absolutely”.  I didn’t know how I was going to make it work but I knew I was going to be on board.


The morning we left, the transmission went on my jeep.  Months prior I was told that the transmission needed to be replaced.  I could only call the repair shop while close enough to the coast and find out what it will cost.  I guess that it was good that the repair shop will have plenty of time to complete the repair.

That said, we left the dock early on Saturday the 31st of October.  Almost right away I was at the wheel of the Guided Discovery heading out through Hull Gut.  We got off of Hull and set the throttles (1400 rpm) and the Autopilot.  There was no need to touch the throttles for days.  Day and night we traveled at 8.4 knots.  Using all of the available electronic equipment such as radar, GPS chart plotter, Autopilot, night vision camera, sonar and a large spot light we set off for Sarasota Fl.

I napped for a while on Saturday evening and was ready for the overnight run.  I got on the wheel at around 1:30 am and we had gotten into some 5’ waves.  As it happened, our course had changed slightly.  Due to a dredge project in the Hamptons and a favorable forecast off shore it was decided to alter our course that would take us out off of NY harbor entrance.  Around 3 am I felt some motion sickness coming on.  When I left the helm around 5:30 am, it wasn’t getting better.  I was sick from about 6 to 8 am.  I really felt bad for my shipmates.  The sounds that I produced cancelled breakfast for them too.  The seas calmed down around noon and I was able to get 2 hours sleep.  By 3:30 pm I was back on the wheel and feeling 100%.


On day 2 I received a text message from my friend who was caring for my 2 yorkies, Asher and Kalvin.  On Thursday and into Friday before we left, Kalvin developed a case of diarrhea. I had the vet come to my house on Friday to check him out.  She gave him a saline treatment and a prescription.  She gave me the bill.  Now, I get a photo of the lesion on his back that looks infected.  My friend was kind enough to bring Kalvin back to the vet where he was kept overnight for surgery to remove the cyst on his back. 


On day 3 I received a text message from my family that our old Aunt Loraine has passed peacefully the previous night.  I knew that she was failing and was okay to remember the person that I saw at the last family cook out.  The only prudent thing to do was just say a quite good bye to Aunt Loraine and keep vigilant. 

Half way thru day 4, we pulled in for fuel.  By this time I am evaluating my decision to be a captain.  In the first half of my trip I have experienced a number of things that only other “yachties” really understand.  The very first thing was my dog, then the jeep, then more dog issues, then the loss of a family member.  At this time I am thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be on this trip.  Then I am thinking that this is exactly what I should be doing.  Things happen that we have no control over.   The only difference is that I am miles away and at sea.  That’s just where I want to be.


For the balance of the trip we had a great time, memories that will last forever.  The things that I did and saw just leave me speechless.  There is nothing like nature in the raw.  Passing Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals at 3 am was amazing.  Cruising across Lake Okeechobee had a feel of being alone on the lake.  Weather lessons from Les, the Okeechobee Waterway, many locks and bridges, Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina, Dolphins off of Captiva Island, South Seas Island Resort and turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are just a few things that make me feel like I should be living on the water again.


They say that things happen for a reason.  Well I don’t know what the next chapter in my life will be but I’m open to it and hope that it will draw on my new skills.  And for the trip to Boston in the spring, it can’t come soon enough.  I have to thank Les Shapiro for making this all possible.  

Snowbird Migration: Changing Culture – Clewiston to South Seas Resort

Our early Saturday morning departure from the Roland Martin’s Marina at Clewiston came with a bit of a surprise. We were departing right at the start of a fishing tournament. Close to a hundred high speed outboard fishing boats were either departing th…

Solomons to Portsmouth

Happy hummingbird
San Diego was delightful. 
It was Sunny, Warm and Gorgeous!   We were there for  the National Meeting of the USPower Squadrons,
and had plenty of free time to catch up with friends that we mostly see at
these events.  When that ended, we rented
a car and drove to Casa Grande, AZ. 
Visited there with the Mangelsdorf kids’ Aunt Miriam (Gallo).   Her desert home is beautiful.  She spends much time and effort keeping
flowers blooming in the dry heat, and the birds are very happy that she
provides so well for them!

We flew back to Newburgh and drove back to the boat a couple
of days later, stopping in Carlisle, PA to have breakfast with son Geoff, Amy
and Pete!  No more overseas duty for
Geoff. He is now part of the PeaceKeeping study group at the Army War
College.  Good to know such activities
exist in our military! 

From Labor Day until the 23rd of Sept.  we Did Not Labor.  We simply enjoyed the summer breezes,
occasional showers, and lots of lazy mornings with coffee and USA Today
provided by the hotel.  We vegged out big
time.  And loved every minute of it!

Took a quick trip to Raleigh, NC to visit the Headquarters
of the USPS, and to have dinner with Fred’s nephew and niece, Dan and
Heidi.  Stopped in Burke on the way home,
and spent a day helping Jen and Chris pack up for the move to their new
townhouse.

You are probably aware of the Lunar Eclipse that occurred at
the end of the month.  I saw great
pictures of it.  Stayed up to see the
beginning, dozed and woke as the moon was re-appearing.

The end of Sept. we went back to condo-land for 3
weeks.  Lots of happenings there!  We went to New York City to follow up with
the nice dr. at Memorial Sloan Kettering who routinely checks Fred’s delicate
skin.  Melanoma remains Gone! Yay!  After that we crossed the street to the Plaza
Hotel and had Tea.   I use a capital T as
the fare was about what you would expect to pay for a dinner for four.  Yikes. 
It was the Plaza, though, and we lollygagged for a long time before
catching  the only conveyance we could find,
a pedi-cab, to get back to Grand Central Terminal.  The UN was in session and there were black
SUVs and guys with earbuds everywhere, and no cabs to be found. (What is the
fare?  I asked the Pedi-Cab Pedaler.  It is metered, he replied.)  At GCT he smiled and said “Meter says 12
minutes at $5.00/minute.  That’ll be $60,
please.”

We do not recommend Pedi-Cabs.   The good news?  We were on time for the train. 

Back at the Condo Devyn planned, and with her big sister’s
help executed a lovely party for Kris and John! 
Sit down dinner for 18, and everything was dee-lish.  No goodbyes for Kris and John, who moved to
their new home in Surfside Beach, SC the following Friday.  The girls said “See ya later!”    OCCC also had a work related party for
Kris.  They will miss her a very great
deal!!!

In addition to getting good reviews from doctors and
dentists, we:

·     
attended the Power Squadron’s D-2 fall
conference in Poughkeepsie. 

·     
attended granddaughter Katie Rae’s string
department (she plays the cello) concert with Mark Wood—a vibrant string
performer who plays the 7 string electric violin/viola/cello/bass that he
invented and markets.  He insists that
music be fun as well as emotionally satisfying, and fun it was!  

·     
were present when granddaughter Laurel trumpeted
the fanfare as the Arlington High School Band hosted its annual invitational
event.  

·     
went to NYC with Linda Lee to see Wicked, and
had a great dinner in the Time/Life Building Restaurant.

In between we spent some time on m&r of the condo at 37 Westbrook,
making it ready for a new tenant.  That
got a bit goofy when Central Hudson shut of the power (oops—their mistake) and
refused to turn it on again until they could shut off the gas valve to the
stove.   Couldn’t find the gas valve.   We had returned to Maryland to be ready to
join the French family in Washington DC on Saturday for Boo at the Zoo!  And what a hoot that was!  All the kids, large and small, got T&T
bags that were filled with candy etc. from the more than 40 stations around the
Zoo!  Had a really fun evening!  Free bus rides to the restaurant where we had
dinner, and back to the car. (If you ever need parking, check out
SpotHero.com.  Efficient and
effective.  Got us two parking spots in
busy Washington, in easy walking distance from the Zoo!)

See the new ‘door’ for the shut off valve?
From Washington, we headed north and arrived back in
Newburgh on Sunday afternoon.  Fred was
able, of course, to locate the gas shutoff (and make it accessible) and in the
ultimate irony, Central Hudson’s rep came on Monday and turned the gas on before I arrived to show her where to
find the ‘necessary to keep the place from blowing up’ stove shutoff.  Sigh.

Decided to stay one more night in Newburgh to have lunch
with Rev. Chris from the UUCRT.  Glad we
did—it was good to get to know him better!!

I’m reminding myself that the purpose of this blog is to
highlight our cruising life.  Seems we
are spending as much time ashore as on the boat these days.  Or, perhaps, that I’m recording the events
just so posterity will be served.  Our
lives do seem to be a bit goofy at times, and we find ourselves enjoying the
goofiness just as it is!

Two tasks ere we left Solomons….Jeff the diver came and
scraped barnacles off the bottom of the boat.  
His wife came as well (to watch for bubbles while he dove, and share a
glass of wine afterwards.)   She works
with her dad doing inlays on guitars. 
Guitars that sell for $30,000 and get put in MOMA and the Smithsonian!   The people we meet provide a great part of
the enjoyment of the cruising life!

Thing two was to diagnose the problem with the head (toilet,
don’t ya know…)  No vacuum, no
flush.   Fred finally located a pinhole
in an important little diaphragm.  Bing
bang boom, replaced it and Bob’s your Uncle!

Bye Solomons until next year!  We spent a couple of days in Portsmouth, VA
awaiting good weather for crossing the Albamarle Sound.    Got
to See Tom Hanks in the Bridge of Spies
at the Commodore–historic ‘pick–up-the–phone-and–order–popcorn-and-dinner-from–your-table-before-the–movie’-Theater.  ‘Twas an excellent movie!  Next day I bought my first persimmon at the
local Farmer’s Market.  Made a great
smoothie!

Ocean Marine Marina in Portsmouth was filled with
sailboats.  A group called the World
Cruising Club was staging two trips—one group was going to the Bahamas and
the other heading to the British Virgin Islands.  Apparently these trips go every year.
Departure had been delayed, and  the
sailors were anxiously watching the weather…as were we.

We tied up Sunday night at the Visitor’s Center in the Dismal
Swamp.  As we were about to leave in the
morning, Robin and Karen arrived in a sailboat they designed and built in
Canada.  A delightful couple with about 6
musical instruments on board.  They were
especially interested in  Fred’s harpsicle, as they built and sold harps for awhile.  Karen shared some music with us
(Xxxxx Xxxxxxxxxxx doing Pete Seeger songs, for example) and showed us a really
great video of their cruise down the Hudson River with a Pete Seeger sound
track.  Fabulous.

Had an easy day on Monday, and stopped for the night at 2:30
in the afternoon.  Still staging for the
Albamarle Sound.  Today we crossed
without incident, I’m happy to report.  
Of the many Sounds (for the non-boaters, Sounds are bodies of water that
open to the Ocean.  Depending on depth,
wind, tides and currents, calm water can become very unsettling in a hurry)
along the ICW, crossing the Albamarle can be 2 hours of pain or pleasure.  The pain can usually be avoided, as we did by staying in Portsmouth and then moseying.  Caught a good ride, and now we’re anchored
for the night with 3 other boats in the area near the Alligator-Pungo Canal.

As soon as steady internet returns, probably Thursday, I’ll
post this.  Until then, hug a veteran and
be proud and grateful for their service!  
In our immediate family, my dad and brother served in WWII and Korea,
and son Geoff continues his Army career with 
his first stateside posting in several years!  Also, Fred’s dad worked in the Petroleum
Industry during WWII, helping to keep the military moving, and granddaughter
Tarryn’s special guy, Ron, is an Army Veteran.

And, of course, remember to breathe!

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